Fantasy Football Scout 2017: Jalen Richard

Make no mistake, there are absolutely a handful of players that should be started every week regardless of who they are up against. In a world where most fantasy owners have to scramble during bye weeks to piece together a competent starting line up, having even just a couple of superstar options is a godsend. Sadly, this is usually not the case as injuries and bye weeks inevitably force fantasy owners to dig deeper to find week-to-week assets that can be just productive enough to match their projected points. While it may seem risky to view the running back situation in Oakland as an opportunity to find one of the aforementioned players, there is one player in that corps that has the potential to step up as the next featured back if Marshawn Lynch continues to struggle.

Team: Oakland Raiders
Position: Running Back
Percent Owned On Fantasy Teams: (Yahoo Fantasy): 30%
Fantasy Points Total Thru Week 7 (Half PPR): Projected: 47.2 Actual: 44.10

While Richard has proven to be an effective physical runner and is fearless when rushing against stacked fronts (14.3% carry rate against stacked fronts, 4th amongst running backs), his value as a fantasy prospect is predicated on his abilities as a pass catcher. While his overall target share (15 targets on the season) may not be particularly notable, the fact that eight of those targets have come in the last two weeks points to Richard being featured much more prominently as a receiver going forward. At 12.8 yards per reception, Richard clearly has the hands and breakaway ability to pick up favorable yardage chunks.

Although Richard has not been utilized predominantly in the running game, his physical style and vision allow him to be effective in the limited opportunities he does get to touch the football (6.6 yards per touch, 7th amongst running backs). Combined with his underrated evasiveness (1.6 yards created per play, 17th amongst running backs), Richard definitely has the physical tools to be a versatile rusher and with enough volume could be an intriguing flex play going forward.

With the overall workload still in question, it’s hard to say whether or not Richard will be an exciting waiver wire acquisition in the long term. His increased target shares as a receiver are intriguing and his elusiveness and physicality give him some upside as a rusher if Lynch continues to be unproductive. For now, as Richard and Deandre Washington continue to share the workload, it’s worth keeping an eye on Richard this week to see what he can do against a tough Buffalo Bills defense.

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